How To,  News

Unique soil building learning opportunity — how to use advanced composting, microbes to expand the soil food web

Unique opportunity to study composting at scale; Learn the latest science and microscopy how-to; develop your soil building skills — a full day for municipal waste operators, farmers, citizen scientists and gardeners — join in!

June 20, 2023 — 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Early Bird $125.00. After June 4, $150.00.
Lunch is included.
Location: Appleseed Farm, 549 Kippen Rd,
White Lake, ON K0A 3L0
Payment etransfer to
(Cangro Enterprises Inc.)

Garden to large scale: this program suits municipal waste, farmers, compost operators;
As well as gardeners, soil lovers and the nature curious


Join Appleseed Farm for a compost learning adventure

Ground breaking research into the soil food
web is presented by instructors Keisha & Casey Ernst. Go deeper into understanding the life of soil. Learn practical, hands on, techniques useful for a wide range of composting methods, from backyard to large scale. Plus, discover how microscopes improve your understanding of our complex soil ecology.

This course will give you all the new tools to improve soil health.
First, dive deep into biological composting and the different ways we can cultivate beneficial soil
microbes at home. The group will tour the different bioregions of the Appleseed farm collecting samples to assess microscopically and take a hands on look at the various processes and materials that can be used to create rich soil.
There will be a focus on application of compost extracts, compost teas, and infusions. We will learn
how to create nematode extractions and protozoa infusions.

Important to the new science method is microscope use. We will be learning basic microscopy and learning to understand soil biology. If you are already making compost or working with living soil, please bring a sample with you so we can take a closer look at the microbes.

If you own a microscope please bring it along. If you are new to this we will have some scopes you can try.

Special thanks to

Sponsor Appleseed Farms and Mark MacKenzie, Mayor of McNab Braeside. You can reach out to Mark at

About the presenters

Keisha Ernst.

Keisha & Casey Ernst have been focusing on soil regeneration and habitat restoration as a team since 2011.

Over the past 8 years they have studied under Dr. Elaine Ingahm and worked side by side with
her on many projects. In 2018 Catalyst BioAmendments ( was founded as an experimental and educational focused compost producer. The aim was to apply the techniques taught by Dr. Ingham to compost made at large scale and to improve the processes to ensure the product is reliably hosting diverse populations of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes.

Casey Ernst.

Catalyst was successful in creating a biological focused product. Since 2019 Keisha & Casey have been using the compost with their consulting. They are working to raise food quality by helping farmers increase microbial biomass in their agricultural soils. Their work supports microbe farmers world wide in improving composting practices.
Their main focus is on fostering a community around microbe farming. They have a passion for helping the unseen lives in the soil come into view through images and videos taken with a microscope and hands on workshops where everyone can explore together.

ONfungi is grateful for their hard work and happy to be part of this cross North America training tour.

Course overview:
Soil Food Web

  • Why are microbes important?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their function?
  • Growing food with a microbial focus! Healthy soil, healthy plants, happy people!
  • Gardening with microbes
  • Reaching our gardens potential
  • Cultivating our processes to be microbe focused
  • Growing fertility on site with waste

Our gardens are a preservation site for microorganisms, insects, and animals

Compost building
  • Compost space preparation
  • Types of composting and what’s best for every situation
  • Static
  • Passively turned food waste
  • Johnson Su
  • Thermophilic
  • Vermicompost
  • Black soldier fly

Your community as a resource and support group.

Input materials

  • Gathering diverse composting inputs
  • Storage and preparation of materials
  • How materials perform in the compost pile
  • Developing your recipe
  • Measuring
  • Speed of construction and mixing
  • Water (moisture management)
  • Temps and turns
  • Turning demo (once to build and the following morning)
  • Troubleshooting/Smells
Tour walk around
  • Forest, field, food walk/tour/microbe collection
  • See different bio regions, do compaction readings & collect water and soil samples
  • Set up nematode extract & protozoan infusion
  • Look at compost under the microscope and do a show and tell with microbes

LUNCH (included)

Compost – Check temps
  • Focus on where to take temperatures
  • Temps troubleshooting
  • Calibrating the thermometer
  • Go over temp & turn chart again
  • Check moisture
  • TURN no matter what just to get hands on experience
  • Moisture- hand check is most important
  • Activity- Squeeze test-which bucket is perfect
  • Talk about tests outside of the microscope where we can gauge quality of compost
Check in

Composting questions, group open forum, this is our last time to really answer compost questions before application focus.

  • Extracts
  • Injection small and large scale
  • Teas
  • Water cans
  • Large scale application
  • Machines
  • Cleaning
  • Biocontrols (looking at the life cycle of the pest)
  • Application and cleaning
  • Show videos for all of this that can’t be done in person


Microscope Adventure
  • Learn how to use the microscope as we explore samples as a group
  • Look at protozoa infusion (talk about relevance)
  • Look at nematodes (talk about relevance)
  • Break into groups and play with microscopes by looking at what we collected in our
    nature/garden walk. One microscope will be up on a big screen, each group will have a scope to play with (People not on microscopes take turns looking at what everyone else is finding).
  • End of day circle- Final thoughts? Questions? Invite everyone to join a tour Skype group or whatsapp for questions that come up.

Citizen Scientist and Regeneration Influencer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *